Join the glee club

We Democrats haven't had a lot of chances to be gracious winners lately. We have instead been that most boring of creatures, the gracious loser. We were gracious when the presidency was stolen. We were gracious when the first act of aggression was on abortion. We've been gracious about the fact that the minute Jethro Clampett got into the White House there was a run on Texas Tea and an energy plan that's a throwback to, well, the Bush years. The legitimate ones.

But now that we've had a little victory, it's my chance to speak as a gracious winner to the president and his party. In the words of Nelson Munce, HA HA! In your FACE, frat ass! Maybe Daddy will buy you another senator, but until then, why don't you have a few shots to drown your sorrows? Maybe you'll run into your underage daughter at the bar.

Wow. That felt almost good enough to warrant a cigarette. Democrats haven't been able to indulge in any luscious gloating in a long time, but now we can, thanks to Sen. James Jeffords pulling the old switcheroo. The Vermont senator changed parties last week, from Republican to Independent, putting the balance of power in the Democrats' favor. Now Bush is going to have a harder time getting anything done. It's a great thing.

Crash the party


Normally I'd rather watch a colorful mobile than C-Span, but when Jeffords was on talking about how the money from the Bush tax cut should have been put into our failing education system and how that was part of his disenchantment with his party, I couldn't turn away. Watching someone in politics speak about making a decision with their conscience, and actually believing they have one, felt like a good three-day rain after a three-month drought. And this on the heels of watching Tommy Smothers on Politically Incorrect say he voted for Nader and now felt stupid; he thought there would be so little difference between Bush and Gore that it wouldn't matter, and now he realizes it did. And you know what a finger on the pulse of the nation Tommy Smothers is. Anyway, these validations feel a little like when you're playing charades, trying and trying to get people to understand your desperate pantomime until someone shouts out "Godzilla!" or whatever it is you've been trying to convey. You breathe out and nod with almost your entire body and know that someone finally grasps what you've been saying all along. The relief is almost exhausting.

I know it's far too good a thought to be true, but imagine if this sort of sound thinking and integrity began to infect other areas of politics, society and day-to-day life? Friends have warned me about my tendency towards rash optimism of this nature, but as an avowed escapist it's hard not to imagine how lovely it would be if this started a Jeffordsian trend of acknowledging when enough is too much. Spin-off news stories might be as follows:

* Advertising industry to cease unsolicited print materials; U.S. mailboxes no longer groan under weight of crap nobody reads:"We decided to put our annoying product on the web where it will still be ignored but won't waste paper," says industry exec. Balding earth expected to be re-treed by the time we're all dead.

* Pope sells two pieces of Vatican art, funds AIDS research for next 10 years: "Someone sent us a WWJD bracelet and it was like, duh," a spokesman for the Vatican said, smacking himself in the forehead.

Sense overload


* Teacher salaries quadruple; after years of bitching about the education system, politicians finally adopt the "you get what you pay for" attitude that most of us accepted all along: "We realized that if we wanted to keep using tired catch phrases like ‘children are the future,' maybe we ought to put some money into them," said a White House spokesman.

* Marijuana legalized in U.S.; law enforcement officials relieved: "There were really bad guys out there and we were having to arrest Cheech and Chong," a law enforcement official said. "Someone was stoned when they wrote that law." Since decriminalization, the incidence of shooting sprees, road rage and assault have decreased considerably while Cartoon Network ratings have soared.

I know it's too good to be true. People will never own up that way, and maybe it's good they don't. If the world began to make sense, what would happen to those of us who have come to accept that everything is relative and irony is the only working principle in the universe? Our heads would pop like overinflated tires.

Things like Sen. Jeffords' switch are the roses on a birthday cake. There aren't very many, but when you end up with one, baby, it's sweet.

Did I say nyah nyah nyah yet?